Kyusu Tokoname
Yohen Komadori

Studio Isshin

A jolly red and brown ombré Tokoname-yaki teapot with colouring reminiscent of a robin, or Komadori, handcrafted at the Isshin kiln in Tokoname: a historic ceramic centre renowned for its red iron-rich clay. This practical all-rounder suitable for all types of Japanese tea is fitted with a hand-perforated ceramic strainer and makes a beloved Kyusu for seasoned tea drinkers and newcomers alike.
Product Side-handle teapot, red and brown
Origin Tokoname, Aichi, Japan
Ceramic style Tokoname Yaki
Studio Isshin
Volume 380ml
Dimensions Ø10.7 x 7.4cm (body only)
Weight 270g
Material Shudei clay
Strainer Ceramic (cera-mesh)
Finish Yōhen ombré, unglazed (yakishime)
Packaging Cardboard box


Each item is handmade and unique therefore measurements are approximate


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Isshin 一心

Founded in 1980 by Sadao Tsuchihira (土平貞雄), the Isshin kiln specialises in traditional ash (Kaiyu 灰釉) and Irabo (伊羅保) glaze Tokoname wares that emphasise the natural beauty of the clay. In 1996 Tsuchihira’s son Eiichi (土平栄一) joined the family business. Whether products are mass produced or one-off, Isshin make their pottery with all their heart – hence the name Isshin which translates to “wholeheartedness”.

Kyusu 急須

In Japanese, Kyusu simply means “teapot” and most often refers to the distinctive side-handled vessel that has long been used to brew green tea in Japan. The handle may also be found over the top or in the back, however (with a bit of practice) the side handle allows for exceptionally smooth and ergonomic single handed pouring. Kyusu tend to be smaller than Western teapots and are completely emptied after each steeping to prevent the tea from over-brewing and becoming bitter. Conveniently, they often have a strainer built into the spout to keep the leaves inside the pot, which also makes for easy re-steeping.

Kyusu come in a variety of shapes, sizes and regional clays, which determine what type of tea is best prepared in it. Shorter, flatter Kyusu for instance are best for teas brewed at low temperatures, such as Gyokuro and Kabusecha, while larger, deeper teapots work better for teas like Hojicha and Genmaicha, which can be steeped at higher temperatures. Furthermore, Kyusu are very collectible items, and those made by government-certified Traditional Master Craftsmen, or Dentō Kogeishi (伝統工芸士), are particularly prized amongst teaware connoisseurs.

Tokoname-yaki 常滑焼

Pottery has been produced in the city of Tokoname, Aichi prefecture, as far back as the 12th century, and since 1976 Tokoname ceramics, or Tokoname-yaki, has been protected as a Traditional Craft of Japan. Tokoname was the site of the largest and oldest of the legendary Rokkoyō (六古窯): the “Six Ancient Kilns” of Japan, and continues to be the leading ceramics production centre in Japan today. Synonymous with Tokoname is the local iron-rich Shudei (朱泥) clay which turns a bright red after baking. Historically this clay was dug up from beneath rice paddies, but nowadays most Tokoname clay is enriched with natural red iron oxide, or Bengara (弁柄), to achieve similar levels of iron. When fired a second time in a reduction oven, the red clays turns black – another characteristic colour of Tokoname-yaki.

Tokoname Kyusu teapots are typically unglazed on the inside, allowing the tannins in the tea to interact with the iron in the clay body, which is said to reduce astringency and highlight the sweetness of green teas. Another key feature are the perfectly fitting lids, which are ground into the body after firing in a technique known as Suriawase. Besides red and black, Tokoname wares also come in a variety of colours and finishes by mixing other pigmented clays or coating in Chara slip glaze, as well as traditional decorative techniques such as Yōhen (窯変) ombré and Mogake (藻掛け) "seaweed covering".


Ikomi 鋳込み

This Kyusu is made using the Ikomi method, also known as pressure or slip casting, where liquid clay, or slip, is poured into and shaped in a plaster mould. The process makes it possible to make complicated shapes and is suitable for producing larger quantities.

Yōhen 窯変

Written as “kiln change” Yōhen refers to the variations in colour and texture of ceramics that happen during firing. This technique is a feature in various Japanese pottery styles including Tokoname, Shino, Bizen and Tenmoku. Within Tokoname-yaki the two-tone ombré effect is often achieved by partially burying a red, oxidation-fired item in rice husks or ashes and refiring it in a reduction furnace, which will turn the exposed part black, while leaving the buried part red.

How to use

Since Tokoname Kyusu have relatively low porosity they are perfect for brewing all sorts of tea. Brewing methods will differ with each tea and personal preference, but the basic steps are outlined as follows:

  • Pour freshly boiled water into teacups or a Yuzamashi cooler to bring the temperature of the water down and warm up the cups you will be using. The hot water may also be used to warm the Kyusu before adding the tea leaves.
  • Make sure the Kyusu is empty before adding 1 to 3 heaped teaspoons of tea per person, depending on the type of tea and how strong you would like to make it.
  • Once the teacups are cool enough to handle or the water in the Yuzamashi has dropped to the required temperature – no higher than 80°C for Japanese green tea – then pour this water into the prepared Kyusu, making sure not to fill it to the brim but to about two thirds full.
  • Close the lid and allow the tea to steep for the recommended or desired time.
  • To pour from a side handle Kyusu, simply grip the handle and rest your thumb on the lid to secure it, then slowly pour a little tea into each of the cups and repeat until the Kyusu is emptied, this way everyone gets an even strength brew. At the end, firmly shake the Kyusu downwards to extract the very last drops.
  • If the tea is suitable for multiple infusions, repeat the brewing process again using water that is a little hotter with each round.
  • After the last infusion, discard the tea leaves, rinse and shake the Kyusu vigorously with warm water only until all the leaves have been washed out, then leave to dry naturally with the lid off.


Unglazed teapots should be washed by hand with warm water only, without any washing-up liquid, which could get absorbed by the porous clay. The outside of the teapot may be cleaned with a soft cloth, but the inside should only be rinsed with warm water to ensure the patina stays intact. Always leave to air dry naturally with the lid off, the exterior may be dried with a towel. Do not put in the dishwasher, microwave or oven. If tea leaves get trapped in the strainer, brush away with a soft brush. Hard water may cause limescale deposits to develop, in which case rinse with soft bottled water, then wipe with a soft cloth.

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